Alumna Kaitlyn Yang aspires for change in the entertainment industry through Alpha Studios


Courtesy of Kaitlyn Yang

Kaitlyn Yang and her crew attend a premier party for Miss 2059, a show that her team did visual effects for last year for Verizon go90.

After graduating in 2007, alumna Kaitlyn Yang founded Alpha Studios in 2013. Alpha Studios is a post-production company Yang created in Los Angeles, CA.

We do visual effects, motion graphics, titles, color correction and consulting. We also do on-set supervision to make sure you are filming things correctly for post-production,” Yang said.

Yang first became interested in the entertainment industry at a very young age after she was exposed to popular films to help learn English after emigrating from China to America.

“I left China when I was nine years old, and my parents wanted me to find a way to learn English and pick up the language naturally. When I was nine they were like ‘oh maybe you should study flashcards’ and that was a no-go for a 9-year-old. [My mom] got me my own Blockbuster card and she just encouraged me to rent a film a day,” Yang said. “After school, I would just pop in a film and put the subtitles on so I [could] hear them speaking the words and also learn to read the words as well. It took me about a year of just watching TV shows to pick up the language.”

After mastering English, Yang developed a hobby of watching movies. She first sparked an interest in visual effects after watching a Star Wars DVD detailing how the movies were made.

“[The movie] broke down all of the departments that made Star Wars possible and I was really intrigued when they showed the visual effects department and all the imageries that they were able to create from scratch, and that really spoke to me,” Yang said. “That was around the same time [I was] at Parkway West. I started taking graphic design, [and] this was kind of in the early days when they started to offer it, and transitioning from fine arts to digital arts was kind of an ‘aha’ moment for me because I found the medium where [I was] most comfortable to express myself.”

I feel that it is my duty to be a voice in the entertainment industry for greater inclusion of people with all abilities. I am a true believer that there are no limits in life, regardless of the cards you’re dealt.”

— Kaitlyn Yang

Prior to building Alpha Studios, Yang was working as a freelance artist around major studios in Los Angeles. She was at a standstill in her life and was unsure about her future career.

“I pretty much realized that a lot of the work [had] been outsourced to other countries and I was offered a supervisor position, but it was going to be in India. I did not know whether to go back to one of the companies I worked with before or whether I should follow the job and move to India,” Yang said. “At the same time, I kind of felt like there [were] lots of things in the industry that I would like to change. One thing, in particular, is the gender equality. There are not a lot of women working in higher up positions in visual effects, especially at a supervisor level. That is when I took a leap of faith and turned down that job offer and started my own company.”

Through Alpha Studios, Yang is able to work on projects with major companies such as Coca-Cola, Google, YouTube, Disney and many others.

“[We worked with Coca-Cola on a] couple of commercials and for Disney [we worked on] a show they had on Disney XD last year called Polaris Primetime. For Youtube and Google we do a lot internal educational materials for people [at those companies],” Yang said. [Recently] we just delivered a project for Amazon Studios that is hopefully coming later this summer and currently we are working on another show that is going to be distributed on Amazon and we are just kind of finishing that up before TV season starts again in the fall.”

In addition to being the owner of Alpha Studios, Yang is also the Visual Effects Supervisor. Her main responsibility as Visual Effects Supervisor is to carry out the vision of the director and other creators behind a project, as well as verifying that the artists at Alpha Studios are on the same path in terms of achieving that vision.

“A lot of times what I will do is have a general pre-production meeting with the director, producers and cinematographers and let them talk out what they are trying to achieve. Then it is up to me to read the script and break down each scene that I think might need either major visual effects or minor visual effects. I will let the rest of the team know so then in their shooting schedule they will have time allocated for visual effects,” Yang said. “It is up to me to figure out the technical challenges and how to bring that to life and then to make sure that I am putting my best artists [forward] with their strength and expertise that can benefit this project. I also manage their schedules as well to [make sure everything is complete] by the due date and on budget.”

Courtesy of Kaitlyn Yang
After being showcased on the cover of Forbes Magazine in 2017, Kaitlyn Yang is recognized in the Hollywood/Entertainment category for the Forbes 30 Under 30 award for 2018.

This year, Yang was named as a recipient for the Forbes 30 under 30 award in the Hollywood/Entertainment category.

“Each year Forbes picks 30 people under the age of 30 to award and promote from about 16 categories. This award has opened doors for us in terms of working on bigger projects,” Yang said.

Moving forward, Yang hopes to continue expanding Alpha Studios and to maintain a steady amount of full-time employees.

“I think I always had 12 in my head as a good number of the staff that I can have on full time that can handle a lot of the different requests that we get per project. I would [also] like to work with more women filmmakers especially women directors and just kind of [empower each other],” Yang said.

Yang has experienced difficulty with true diversity inclusion working within Hollywood. She was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at a young age, leaving her wheelchair-bound. Yang has had to deal with difficult encounters with directors and producers who may not want to hire someone with a physical disability.

“[They do] not understand the benefit of bringing on inclusion behind the cameras so that is an area that [where] we are still trying to fight the uphill battle. I think we just have to find allies who are comfortable with working [in that environment],” Yang said. “At the end of the day, if you surround yourself with people that look more like what the real world looks like then it benefits everyone.”

Despite certain difficulties Yang has had, her disability has grounded her as a person which has helped her be more patient and work harder to achieve her goals.

“Being a wheelchair user made me think like an adult earlier on in life and it helped me channel my energy into digital art, which eventually lead me here,” Yang said. “I feel that it is my duty to be a voice in the entertainment industry for greater inclusion of people with all abilities. I am a true believer that there are no limits in life, regardless of the cards you’re dealt.”